How Armchairs are Helping Homeless Dogs
As strange is it may seem, putting used and no longer wanted armchairs inside the kennels of a dog shelter is actually becoming a thing.
The unwanted furniture is enabling homeless canines to get adopted and, what’s more, you can help make this happen in your neighborhood as well.
Story No. 1 – It All Began With “Buster Brown”
During his nearly four years at the Knox County Humane Society located in Galesburg, Illinois, south-west of Chicago, “Buster Brown” had been the shelter mascot.
He would hang out in the front office with all the staff. Whenever the small computer chair became unoccupied, he would make his move.
Being in a more elevated position, he had a much better view and kept himself entertained by observing all the comings and goings. It made him happy!
The problem was, though, he had to curl up really small to fit on it and then he would get displaced when its occupant returned.
The First Armchair
Then, one day early this year (2018), staff and volunteers came up with the idea to get this handsome guy his very own chair. But it had to be an armchair.
That way he could lie down and rest his head on the arm, just like so many pets do in their own family’s loving home.
And, yes, “Mr. Buster” felt very much at ease as though he were, in fact, at the forever home that had eluded him for so long.
More And More Chairs
Well, one thing lead to another. The next thought was, what if we get a few more armchairs? That way we can see how other dogs who are up for adoption react and how potential adopters react.
So, sure enough, in February the first three chairs were placed in the lobby where an area is set up for three separated cages. It was a big hit.
Then, the following month, a campaign was launched to ask people in the area to donate armchairs they no longer wanted. The response from the community was amazing.
The very first day, a lady went to a thrift shop and bought 11 chairs for the shelter. A total of 25 are currently in use, with more in storage since they frequently have to be replaced if they get a little chewed up or scratched.
Chairs For Cats
At the same time, some of the cats also got chairs. However, they are now using mostly plastic lawn chairs since not all of the felines are litter box users.
The Benefits Are Real
Who better to tell us about the benefits derived from the armchair initiative than shelter Director, Erin Buckmaster. “First of all, we’re able to get the dogs off the floor and out of drafts, and it gives them a home setting,” she explained.
“The result is they are definitely more comfortable, calm and less stressed, so their behavior improves and they are more adoptable.” Buckmaster also mentioned that the dogs that have been at the shelter the longest are put in the lobby to have a better chance of adoption.
Visitors also comment about how much they enjoy seeing them more relaxed and have a more enjoyable experience interacting with them.
Visitors can meet long-time residents as soon as they enter the lobby
More On The KCHS
It’s interesting to note that Knox County Humane Society has a contract from the City of Galesberg and also operates as Animal Control.
This means that their intake includes strays as well as dogs that have been surrendered or confiscated as a result of operations such as drug busts and other types of criminal activity.
Specially trained staff members actually accompany law enforcement on these missions to handle the animals involved in these cases.
Publicity, Passion And Purpose
When a video of KCHS shelter dogs using the armchairs was posted on YouTube, it got millions of views in a matter of days.
As a result of this unexpected publicity, a shelter in Idaho decided to implement the same program, and their story is featured next.
But getting back to the power of the internet, I’d like to share with you my favorite video which was made by staff member, Tanner Smith, who helps out with social media when he’s not taking care of Animal Control business.
Passion and purpose are apparent and contagious. You can hear it in her voice. The shelter is her passion. And you can believe it with her actions. Buckmaster is 71 years of age and widowed. She had been a long-time volunteer who is now shelter Director, but she is still a volunteer.
By that I mean she has declined to receive a salary so that the small budget she manages will stretch further. So, if any reader, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, would like to donate, the funds will go towards vital supplies and continuing improvements to the facility. To find out more, please visit:
Knox County Humane Society
1855 Windish Dr
Galesberg, IL 61401
Much beloved “Buster Brown” passed away August 20 2018 due to congestive heart failure. R.I.P., sweet boy.
Story No. 2 – This May Well Be The Start Of A Trend
For the second part of this story, I spoke to Lissa Waters who is Development Coordinator at West Valley Humane Society in Caldwell, Idaho.
She handles donations and events at this privately-operated, open admission shelter located in the Boise metro area, that takes in over 7,000 animals per year.
“When we heard about the success they were having at the Knox shelter with the armchairs, we decided to try it out, too,”
Waters remarked. That was back in June this year, and the campaign is going strong.
When I asked for an example of how a dog had benefitted directly from using a chair, Roxy immediately came to mind.
“It’s always a lot harder to adopt out an older dog. Roxy was 10 or 11 year old and wasn’t doing well in this noisy setting.
But as soon as she was given a chair, she curled right up on her blanket and started to relax.”
Waters added that the staff took photos, a local television crew came out, and she was adopted one or two days later. What a heartwarming story!
WVHS will have anything between 50 and 100 dogs available for adoption at any one time. Smaller-sized dogs are given smaller kennels that have camping chairs with blankets, and armchairs are used for the other dogs.
The shelter accepts only chairs with legs to facilitate floor cleaning. And, since they cannot be property sanitized, they are only used once.
So WVHS is always asking people in the community to donate ones they no longer want, and they have a strong social media presence to help get the word out.
For information on volunteering and how to donate, please contact:
West Valley Humane Society
5801 Graye Lane,
Caldwell, ID 83607
208 455 5920
Highlighting The Benefits
- An armchair is a comfort item most dogs are used to when they lived with their previous family.
- It allows a potential adopter to already visualize the dog fitting into its new home fairly effortlessly.
- A chair is comfortable and has a calming effect. The stress level goes way down and a dog’s mood improves significantly.
- The likelihood of a dog finding its (hopefully) forever home goes way up.
Would You Like To Help?
If so, you can spread the word so more and more shelters embrace this program and more and more dogs get adopted.
Maybe you have an old armchair you can donate. The dogs will thank you for it!